Are You Ready For A Puppy This Christmas?

by Jeannine Dillon // October - November - December 2021

Thinking about finally caving and getting your kids a puppy for Christmas this year? Following are some important questions to consider before you rush out to find a new furry friend.

Do You Have Kids Under 12? Dogs are amazing companions for children, and if you have kids, chances are they’ve begged for a puppy at some point. Before you feel your resolve start to waver though, ask yourself this: are you willing to do everything for this new dog? Because that cute scrappy puppy needs a LOT of work. Morning walks in cold temperatures, getting up to let him out in the middle of the night, accidents that need to be cleaned, tornado baths, hair explosions, training … you get it. If you want your kids to experience life with a dog, consider adopting an older one (two and up) that is already housebroken.

Do You Work Full-Time? If you work full-time or are away from the house for long stretches, then a puppy might not be in your future. Just like their human counterparts, dogs under the age of two require a great deal of care and attention. They simply can’t be left to their own devices for a 9 to 5 day. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a dog, but you may want to choose a more mature dog that can handle longer absences. And even if your dog can handle it, you still might want to keep your best friend socializing and playing at a dog daycare while you are away. This keeps them physically fit, happy, and social while you work.

Are You Fully Aware of the Costs? At first glance, paying for dog food and a leash might seem reasonable, but there are a few hidden costs you should know about too. Crates, beds, toys, treats, vet trips, grooming appointments, and vaccinations can add up. Injuries that require extended vet treatment or hospital stays can quickly ratchet up into the thousands. Those adorable faces are worth every dime, but make sure you can really afford to take care of a puppy.

Are You Comfortable Setting Boundaries? Dogs are natural pack animals. By bringing them into our homes and separating them from other dogs, they will look for pack structure within your house. You need to be comfortable setting boundaries with your new puppy right from the start. Be ready for crate training from day one, designating spots which are off-limits for him (beds and couches), establishing walking and feeding routines, etc. Hounds Town USA founder and canine expert Mike Gould says, “Dogs need consistency and leadership. Behavior problems start when humans treat their dogs like humans. Establishing boundaries from the start helps create a safe environment for your pup and for everyone in the house.” Make sure you instruct your children to respect a dog’s space. They should never put their face near a dog’s.

Do You Like Nice Things? Puppies like to destroy – simple as that. Your shoe might look like an ordinary loafer, but to your puppy, it’s a squirrel that must be captured and destroyed. Whether it’s your sofa, remote control, underwear, shoes, or the jelly doughnut you left unattended on the kitchen table, your puppy will probably find it. You’re going to need to be patient while he learns. You’ll also need to spend time understanding the personality of the dog before adopting or purchasing. While behaviors can be taught, personalities in dogs most often do not change. Regular, interactive socialization in a pack environment is essential to a dog’s health and well-being.

According to the ASPCA, approximately 3.3 million dogs end up in shelters every year. More than a half million of these will be euthanized. Many have been surrendered by owners who underestimated the responsibility or simply don’t understand the skills needed to manage a dog. So before you rush to get a puppy for your kids this Christmas, take a moment. Do your research, get a plan, and if you’re not sure, try fostering first. It’s a great way to get to know a dog and how he fits into your home.

Jeannine Dillon

With Hounds Town USA, “home to the happiest dogs on earth!” Hounds Town Wake Forest is opening this fall at 222 Capcom Avenue. For more information, join their private Hounds Town Wake Forest Facebook group, and follow them on Instagram @houndtownwakeforest.